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Global and National Public Health Week ’13 looks at saving lives worldwide

April 16, 2013

Despite high immunization rates in the U.S., about 42,000 adults and 300 children die every year from vaccine-preventable disease, according to the American Public Health Association. In the third annual Global and National Public Health Week at Drake University, students learned they can make significant strides to lower this number by raising awareness through educational initiatives.

Drake students educated campus and the Des Moines community about national and global public health issues April 1-7. Sponsored by Drake University and The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship, the week brought together students, faculty, and members of the Des Moines community for discussion on public health issues. Events included lectures, panel discussions, and a film screening that highlighted the value of public health systems in preventing disease and saving lives.

“Drake’s mission statement commits us to educating responsible global citizens,” says David Skidmore, director of The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship. “We wanted to raise awareness of what we mean by public health and how public health issues in the United States are connected to the same problems elsewhere in the world.”

Global premature birth rates were among the issues discussed this year. In a keynote speech, “Born Too Soon: The Emerging Global Problem of Premature Births,” public health activist John Murray detailed his work implementing maternal health programs in developing nations. He also discussed the approaches programs take to prevent premature births.

A screening of the Academy Award nominated documentary How to Survive A Plague demonstrated how popular activism pushed governments to speed up development of drug treatments for HIV and AIDS. Other activities included panel discussions that featured Iowa practitioners and public health professionals and a poster session displaying Drake student research on health issues.

Students interested in pursuing a career in public health are encouraged to consider enrolling in Drake’s interdisciplinary Global and Comparative Public Health (GCPH) concentration. There are 35 College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (CPHS) students who have declared the GCPH concentration. In addition, CPHS offers a number of required and elective courses in the concentration.